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Around the globe is the tropical ocean. It occupies a band from latitudes of about 25° south and 32° north of the Equator and is, therefore, the world’s largest collector of solar energy. Its clear water is deep blue because it efficiently captures and stores sunlight. It absorbs solar energy

equal in amount to 37 trillion kilowatts annually, i.e., 4,000 times the amount of electricity used on the planet and, therefore, behaves like a giant battery. It is calculated that the tropical ocean on an average day absorbs solar radiation equivalent in heat content to that of about 170 to 250 billion barrels of oil and may become the oil fields of the 21st century. It follows that the surface water of the tropical ocean is consistently warm, exceeding 26C (79F), while the deep ocean water (DOW) is cold, reaching 4C

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(39F) at a depth of 1,000 meters. In addition to being arctic or antarctic cold, DOW is rich in dissolved inorganic nutrients (nitrates, phosphates and silicates) and free of surface pathogens (bacteria and viruses). It is a renewable, abundant and inexhaustible resource that can be used continuously and in a non-polluting fashion. This virtually unlimited resource is also inexpensive. A simple calculation shows that, while it costs US10¢ to pump 1,000 gallons of DOW, it would cost US$3.00 to refrigerate the same volume of water.

Using the diverse properties of the deep ocean water, either alone or in combination with the warm surface seawater or the ambient warm humid tropical air, the 870-acre Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA), at Keahole Point near Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii, has researched and developed a variety of technologies that can be utilized in isolation or in multi-product integrated systems. These proven DOW technologies can provide tropical island communities with air conditioning and industrial cooling, cold agriculture, aquaculture, clean power and pure fresh water, which can reliably support industry, tourism, and trade – effectively bolstering their developing economies.

 

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